COVID-19: Police rescue 600 workers “imprisoned” for 3 months in rice factory

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Operatives of Kano State Police Command have rescued over 600 workers forced to spend three months in a factory called ‘popular farm rice’, in Challawa industrial area.

The workers said that they were threatened with their jobs if they opted to go home to see their families.

It was gathered that the operatives stormed the factory on Monday after obtaining a court injunction, arresting four managers and releasing the detained workers.

According to the workers, they were denied access outside the premises of the factory due to the fear of bringing in coronavirus, COVID-19, into the factory.

One of the freed workers told journalists that he had been in the factory since March 23rd without setting his foot outside.

Another worker, Haruna Salihu, said he had been in the factory since March 28 and was not allowed to visit his family and parents, saying “Our family members are seriously disturbed, as they don’t know the (condition we are in). My wife and my kids used to come to the factory’s gate and I couldn’t go and meet them.

We were tricked to stay in the factory for five days, then (it was) extended to seven days, then two weeks and subsequently extended to one month. We are now detained for over three months. There are about 600 workers in the factory. We are sleeping in a very poor environment. I am appealing to authorities to allow me to go back to my family.”

Similarly, another employee lamented that though he was not forced to stay, but was threatened with dismissal if he decided to go outside the factory.

Also, a truck driver, Hashimu Isa, who brought paddy rice from Kebbi State, gave insight into how he was kept in the factory for three days without going out, informing that “I brought paddy rice from Yauri, Kebbi State. I could not go out of the factory, since my entry three days ago. Even if you attempted to go out, the security would not allow you. I could not go out to give my boy money to buy food. Someone sent me N10,000, but I could not go to the bank to withdraw it. I was waiting to offload the rice, so that I will leave.”

Spokesperson of the state Police Command, Abdullahi Kiyawa, said they had arrested four management staff of the factory, and investigation was ongoing to verify the allegations against them, adding “we have found many workers locked and enslaved in the factory. The commissioner of police, Habu A Sani, has directed for a thorough investigation. So far, we have arrested four management staff and investigation has commenced.”

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